Show of 01-09-2021

Tech Talk January 9, 2021

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Alice in Reston: Dear Tech Talk. I have an iPhone and have run out of memory for more pictures. What are my options? Love the show. Alice in Reston.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Management of digital photos has become an ongoing task. It requires discipline and organization if you want to keep your pictures forever. First of all you must transfer your pictures to your computer and delete them from you iPhone. Connect you iPhone to the USB port of your computer. You iPhone will appear like an external hard drive or thumb drive. Click on the iPhone and copy all the pictures to the pictures subdirectory on your computer. Make certain to create folders to organize you pictures by event. Delete all the bad pictures now so you don’t have to save them forever too. Made certain to create a second copy of the pictures. I use both a USB external hard drive and a cloud storage company (Carbonite). After verifying that the picture are on your computer and backed up, delete them from the iPhone. Good luck with your photo archiving.
  • Email from Robert Tyler: Dear Dr. Shurtz: I am thinking about trading my iPhone 7 in and getting a iPhone 12 and I was thinking about doing it at the Apple online store. Is this a good way to buy a new iPhone? How hard is it to set up the phone-sim cards, etc.? Is sending the trade in phone a difficult process? Have you ever purchased a phone or any other device from the Apple Online Store? Thanks to you and Jim and of course Mr. Big Voice for a great show. I never miss a podcast. Carl Tyler
  • Tech Talk Responds: I usually buy my phone directly from Apple. I suspect the online store is just as convenient. You can always go into the store and they will help you with configuration. Make certain to back up the old phone and then restore the new phone from the backup. Both OS versions must match. The SIM card should be configured automatically by the telco that you select. Your phone should be configured out the box. All you have to do is update to the latest operating system and them restore your phone from your iCloud backup. Apple has pretty good service. I would not be afraid to use the online purchase, particularly during the pandemic.
  • Email from Bob in Maryland: Dear Doc (see, Doc, has top billing), Jim (Yep, Jim is right behind Doc, and has 2nd billing) and then excitable Mr. Big Voice. Here is a Wired article about the early development of microprocessors, and how some classified work might have played a role in it. I’ve known Ray Holt all my life, but I never knew what he had accomplished in developing the first microprocessor for the F-14 fighter. Best of the holiday season. Love the show, your faithful listener. Bob in Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: Ray Holt and the first microprocessor is a great story. I may feature him in a future Profiles in IT. Classified work is frequently hidden from view. Some of my patents are still classified.
  • Email from Jim in Bowie: Dear Dr. Shurtz and Jim. I’ve been using my Dell Inspiron 15 (3000 Series) for Zoom meetings. The operating system is the Window 10 Home edition, with the latest updates. I use headphones to reduce distractions to the rest of the family and to help me hear the Zoom conversations better. About two weeks ago my internal microphone stopped working whenever I plugged my headphones. The internal microphone would start working again as soon as I unplugged the headphones. How can I fix this problem? Thanks in advance for your help. Jim, a faithful listener from Bowie, MD.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Jim sent an update. Problem solved. Turns out the problem was caused by installing 2020-12 Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 2005 on 12/8/2020. The problem was solved by installing Feature update to Windows 10, version 20H2 on 1/7/2021. Jim, before you sent the update, I was going to suggest that you go the audio setting in Zoom and make certain that the internal mic is selected as your audio source. I had a similar problem and that fixed it.
  • Email from Susan in Alexandria: Good Morning, Dr. Shurtz and Jim. Last month Bob in MD shared a website that offers up random views from Google Street View all around the world. In that vein, I thought I’d share another fun diversion.  With this one, you can “swap” the view out your window for someone else’s from all around the world. Go to windowswap.com. Relax by virtually escaping to desirable destinations all over the world. Beach scenes, city walks and beautiful. Happy New Year! Susan in Alexandria, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: Some great scenes with app. The scene is like you are looking out a window. Lot’s of fun, but some locations are not identified.
  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Hi Dr. Shurtz. You provided information on how to delete everything from one’s laptop /PC a while back. I am trying to find the Tech Talk program with that procedure. I would like to clean my old laptop and give it to a student who may need it for on-line school. Many thanks & keep giving us tech info. Arnie. Colorado Springs, CO.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Are you selling or giving away your computer? You need to wipe your hard drive clean. You can reset Windows 10, 8.1, and 7 to factory conditions using built-in reset features. With the help of the recovery tool in Windows 10, you can reset your PC and wipe the drive at the same time. Go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery, and click Get Started under Reset this PC. You are then asked if you want to keep your files or delete everything. Select Remove Everything, click Next, then click Reset. Your PC goes through the reset process and reinstalls Windows. When finished, your PC is rebooted, placing you at the Windows setup screens. This is probably all you need.
  • If you want a stronger and more secure method of wiping your hard drive, a good hard drive eraser utility will do the job. This means the utility will fully wipe your drive by overwriting your data three times with different characters. DBan (Darik’s Boot and Nuke) is a great tool. Download it at http://www.dban.org/. This is probably the most popular program and is basically a self-contained boot disk. Create a bootable CD using CDBurnerXP or whatever burning program you like and boot to the CD when prompted after restarting your computer. You can choose from different wipe methods including Gutmann Wipe, Department of Defense Short and Medium and others. It does an excellent job erasing data on many different types of hard drives. If you are giving the computer to a relative, you will need to install a fresh operating system.
  • Email from Daniel in Arlington: Dear Tech Talk. I have a Windows 10 computer. I send many pictures to my friends. Is there a simple way to send these pictures as a single file? Love the show. Daniel in Arlington
  • Tech Talk Responds: There is an easy way to email lots of files as one single attachment. All you have to do is place all of the files you wish to send into a compressed ‘zipped’ folder. Here’s how to create a zipped (compressed) folder:
    • Right-click on the Windows Desktop, then click New>Folder.
    • Give the new folder a descriptive name. For example, if you want to email a bunch of wedding photos you could name the folder TechTalkPics or something similar.
    • Copy all of the files you want to send in an email into your new folder.
    • After you have placed the last file into the folder, right-click on the folder and select Send to>Compressed (zipped) folder.
  • Now you can attach the zipped folder you just created to a new email message and send all the files to the intended recipient as one attachment. Just be aware that most email services have a limit on the maximum file size. For example, if you use Gmail any zipped folder you attach to an outgoing email cannot exceed 25MB in size.
  • When they receive the email, they need to extract the files from the attached folder.
    • Save the zipped folder to your computer.
    • Right-click on the zipped folder and click Extract All.
    • When prompted, select a destination for the new folder containing the extracted files, then click Extract.
  • Email from Sam in Manassas: Dear Tech Talk. I am using a website that frequently updates its pages. Unfortunately, when I click “Refresh” to load the latest version of a web page, I only to receive the exact same info even though you knew the page had been updated? This happens to me when I happen to be viewing a news website or checking out a busy blog. What are my options? Sam in Manassas
  • Tech Talk Responds: When this happens the browser is reloading the page from the local browser cache instead of checking for a newer version of the page on the server. This has to be one of the most frustrating things about using the Internet! The good news is you can force your browser to ignore the version of the page that’s currently stored in the local browser cache and request the most recent version of the page directly from the site’s web server instead. All you have to do is press the Ctrl+F5 key combination. Pressing Ctrl-F5 basically tells the browser that you believe there’s a newer version of the page available on the website, so go get it!

 

Profiles in IT: Anthony Michael Fadell

  • Anthony Michael Fadell is an engineer best known as father of the iPod.
  • Anthony M. Fadell was born March 22, 1969, in Detroit.
  • Born in Detroit, he moved with his family throughout the country, attended eleven schools and as an eight-year old held his first job selling eggs.
  • Fadell graduated from Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI.
  • He received a BS in Computer Engineering in 1991 from the University of Michigan.
  • While still at University of Michigan, he founded Constructive Instruments, which marketed multimedia composition software for children.
  • In 1992, he started working for Apple spinoff General Magic, starting as a diagnostics engineer and progressing to a systems architect for the Magic Cap PDA platform.
  • During his three-and-a-half years at General Magic, Fadell lost touch with his family, screwed up his personal relationships, gained 40 pounds and then lost 50.
  • In 1995 he was hired by Philips where he was co-founder, Chief Technology Officer, and Director of Engineering in the Mobile Computing Group.
  • As a condition for joining, he demanded that his team be allowed to operate like a startup. The Mobile Computing Group got its own building, with walls painted yellow and purple. There were open cubicles, free soda and fruit.
  • He calls himself a studied engineer and self-proclaimed designer. His passion is designing portable devices. He feels limited space forces more creative solutions.
  • During the 1990s, Fadell started his own company called Fuse. His vision was to become the Dell of the Consumer Electronics.
  • One of the devices he had in mind was a small hard disk-based music player.
  • Fuse failed to find a second round of funding and Fadell started exploring options.
  • He first approached RealNetworks in 2000 but left after only six weeks.
  • The second company he approached was Apple, where Jobs was very receptive.
  • He started doing work for Apple from February 2001 as a contractor.
  • In April 2001 he was hired by Apple to assemble and run its iPod & Special Projects group, where he oversaw the design and production of the iPod and iSight devices.
  • Tony Fadell partnered with a company called PortalPlayer who had been working on their own MP3 player to design the software for the new Apple player.
  • Within eight months, Tony Fadell’s team and PortalPlayer completed a prototype iPod and Apple polished the user interface adding the famous scroll wheel.
  • On October 23, 2001 Apple Computers announced the iPod, created under project codename Dulcimer. The iPod was formally released November 10, 2001.
  • Fadell was already kept out of the picture – even though he had developed the device from the very beginning, as head of a team of 35 designers and engineers.
  • Jobs was always the face of the iPod. Jobs was afraid that the competition could steal his best engineers. That’s why no one could interview Fadell
  • He was promoted to vice president of iPod engineering in 2004.
  • On March 31, 2006, he was promoted to Senior Vice President of the iPod Division.
  • As of April 2007, the iPod had sold over 100 million units worldwide. This unit, in combination with iTunes, restored Apple.
  • On November 4, 2008, Fadell stepped down as Senior Vice President but would remain as an adviser to CEO Steve Jobs.
  • While building his energy-efficient home near Lake Tahoe in California, Fadell searched for a thermostat and was frustrated by the limited features and cost.
  • Fadell developed the business plan for Nest to redesign the traditional thermostat.
  • In May 2010, Fadell and Matt Rogers co-founded Nest Labs in Palo Alto, CA, to produce a sensor-driven, Wi-Fi-enabled, learning programmable thermostat.
  • In 2014, Google bought Nest Labs for $3.2B.
  • Fadell announced his resignation from Nest on June 3, 2016.
  • Fadell currently a Principal at Future Shape, a global advisory and investment firm coaching engineers and scientists working on foundational deep technology.
  • Fadell has authored more than 300 patents.
  • His 2015 TED Talk titled “The first secret of design is…noticing” has been viewed over two million times.

Observations from the Bunker

  • The key to innovative design according to Tony Fadell
  • We must overcome habituation. The brain encodes repeated tasks into a habit that we can become an expert of. That process is called habituation.
  • During Fadell’s time at Apple, his boss Steve Jobs always wanted a product’s design to be intuitive, easy to use, and simple. He wanted his employees to “stay beginner”.
  • This ensured that customers could pick up any Apple products and intuitively use it.
  • It is easy to solve a problem that everyone sees, but hard to solve one that no one sees.
  • Notice how all new Apple products you purchase are fully charged and ready to use as soon as you turn on the device. That’s Jobs trying to replace the old with the new.
  • What’s old? Back then, when you buy an electronic appliance, it came with uncharged batteries. Jobs wanted to fix that problem.
  • How To Fight Against Habituation: Look broader, Look closer, Think younger
  • Look broader — Sometimes it’s crucial to take a step back and see beyond the original scope of the problem that you see. If a process is too complicated, maybe remove all components. Break down to individual parts. See where each part fits. Maybe there’s a way to get rid of those.
  • Look closer — Maybe the design of a product is already great, but what is missing is one tiny little thing to complete the puzzle. If we look closer and analyze individual components, we can figure out what’s missing. For instance, mounting a TV to the wall required at least 3 screws, but some years ago a group of smart folks reduced it from using 3 to just 1. That made the process easier and faster!
  • Think Younger — Fadell’s kids asked him, “Why can’t cars fly around traffic?” When he asked his kid to see if there’s mail in the mailbox. His kid told him, “Why can’t the mailbox just let us know when there’s mail?” Always have young people on your team.

Discovery of the Week: iPhone has Built-in Scientific Calculator

  • The iPhone’s built-in calculator app has a scientific mode. All you have to do to access it is turn your phone on its side.
  • If you’re the type of person who keeps your phone permanently in portrait lock (like me), this might come as a surprise.
  • This unlocks all sorts of functionality, like adding numbers to memory, parentheses, exponents, and all those trig functions from back in high school.
  • The feature is not exactly new, or hidden: It was introduced in iOS 2.0 back in 2008.

Tip of the Week: Maintaining your Charging Cable

  • Occasionally my iPhone Lightning charging cables that only work if I plug it in one way into the iPhone.
  • I recently discovered the problem is corrosion on the contacts, especially at the Bay house by the water. I see some dark coloration on the contacts.
  • The best low-tech way to remove it is to rub the contacts with a pencil eraser.
  • The method I like is to use DeoxIT D5. This removed removes corrosion on circuit boards and components, especially if they have been exposed to the elements.

Bitcoin Soars above $35,000

  • The price of bitcoin rallied above $35,000 on January 5, 2020.
  • Bitcoin’s latest all-time high comes just days after it slumped more than 10% to $29,316. That followed a more than 300% jump in 2020 to levels above $29,000.
  • JPMorgan published a note claiming the cryptocurrency could soar to as high as $146,000 as it competes with gold as an “alternative” currency.
  • The precious metal also saw sizable gains in 2020, with spot gold rising about 25% for the year.
  • JPMorgan’s strategists, however, said that bitcoin would need to become substantially less volatile before it can match gold in terms of market value.
  • The recent surge in bitcoin to record levels was in part driven by the entry of larger, institutional investors into the market.
  • Bitcoin bulls have hailed the virtual currency as an inflation hedge similar to gold.
  • Skeptics see it as a speculative asset with no intrinsic value and a market bubble that is likely to burst at some point.

Jack Ma was Almost Bigger than China

  • Billionaire Jack Ma is a rare figure in China. He speaks his mind and pushes boundaries. His business empire, and Ma himself, at enormous risk.
  • The trouble started in late October after Ma criticized China’s regulators at a conference in Shanghai.
  • As Ma’s financial tech firm Ant Group was preparing for the world’s largest initial public offering, he accused authorities of stifling innovation and blasted the country’s banks for having a “pawn shop” mentality.
  • Beijing’s retaliation was swift. Within days, regulators called off the IPO, but not before summoning Ma and Ant executives to a meeting.
  • In the weeks since then, regulators have ordered Ant to restructure large swaths of the company. They even extended their scrutiny to Alibaba, which is now the subject of an antitrust investigation.
  • Ma hasn’t been seen in public since he gave his speech in Shanghai. Many think Ma is most likely lying low as authorities turn up the heat on his businesses.
  • A former English teacher with humble beginnings, Ma has long personified China’s economic prosperity and entrepreneurial grit.
  • He built Alibaba into a $500 billion tech empire and amassed a personal fortune of some $50 billion.
  • As his companies, grew, Ma became the friendly face of China’s economic rise.
  • Ma has lunched with former President Barack Obama and taken selfies with former UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
  • And Xi himself signaled a tech crackdown last month at an economic conference, where he called on the country to strengthen anti-monopoly efforts against online platforms and prevent a “disorderly expansion” of capital.

Feds Charge Former Zoom Executive

  • News that the Justice Department had filed conspiracy charges against a former China-based Zoom Video executive.
  • Zoom said it had fired the executive and was cooperating with the government.
  • The government alleges the executive, at the direction of the Chinese government, terminated at least four video meetings hosted on Zoom commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, mostly organized and attended by people in the U.S. including Zoom customers in the New York area.
  • The Chinese government used information provided by the executive to retaliate against participants who lived in China, the Justice Department alleged.
  • Zoom, meanwhile, revealed that an internal investigation showed the executive had “shared or directed the sharing of a limited amount of individual user data with Chinese authorities.”
  • Zoom is a U.S. company, of course, so it isn’t in the same situation that Chinese-owned TikTok is in. But these charges are sure to resurrect persistent worries about Zoom’s cybersecurity controls.